Highlights of the Boys' Latin-Severn MIAA B Conference championship baseball game on Tuesday, May 24. (Tom Worgo and Ulysses Munoz / BSMG)
Boys' Latin baseball coach Bill Greenwell doesn't know which element was more responsible for his team's victory over Severn in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship Tuesday — Zach Grace's pitching or his players' long memories.
Grace pitched six shutout innings to lead Boys' Latin to a 7-4 victory over the Admirals at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen and give the Lakers their first baseball title since 2008.
Boys' Latin lost in the final last year to St. Mary's and Glenelg Country in 2013.
"It was a special motivation," Greenwell said of the losses. "We didn't want to be there again."
The motivation factor, coupled with Grace's pitching was all the Lakers needed.
Grace (5-2, 2.93 ERA) yielded three hits, stuck out four and walked four.
The Lakers' Mark Lopez hit a solo home run, walked three times and scored three runs and Max Keefe had two hits and two RBI.
Boys' Latin (15-8) pushed across three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Leadoff batter Sam Bowen walked and stole second base. After Matt Luterman popped up to third base, Mark Lopez was hit by a pitch.
Then Bowen scored on Sam Grace's single down the left field line, which moved Lopez to third base. Grace stole second and scored along with courtesy runner Desmond Banks on Keefe's single to left field.
"We were down 3-0, and that takes us out of our bunting game and our running game," Severn coach Hal Sparks said. "That put us in a bad situation, but we played through it and I was happy the way the kids came back."
Sparks, whose team beat the Lakers in two of the three prior meetings this season, pulled sophomore starter Ryan Jack after he surrendered his third run in the first and replaced him with sophomore Jimmy Riley.
It worked as Riley retired Marquise Washington and Cole Jarrett to end the inning.
Riley got out of a bases loaded jam in the second. He walked Tommy Esposito and hit Luterman and Lopez to load the bases. But he ended the inning by getting Sam Grace to ground.
Boys' Latin added a run in the third to go ahead 4-0. Keefe scored on Cole Jarrett's sacrifice fly to left field.
Boys' Latin extended its lead to 5-0 in the fourth on Lopez's homer over the left-field fence of Sam Roeder, the Admirals' third pitcher.
Severn (20-7) threatened to score in the fifth. The Admirals loaded the bases on two walks and an error, but Grace got out of the jam when Jarrett, a sophomore, made a diving catch on Ty Benz's slicing liner to right field.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Lakers scored another run when Washington came home when Noah Lanbonte Clark hit into a double play.
Boys' Latin added runs in the fifth and sixth before Severn put a scare into the Lakers in the seventh with four runs.
Pitcher J.P. Woodward issued bases-loaded walks to Tyrek Thornton and Sam Roeder to trim the lead to 7-2.